Swiss Rivers Program

In the coming decades, numerous projects will come on stream to revitalise, regenerate and network our rivers as part of an ecological uplift programme. The reason behind these measures is the revised water protection legislation which came into force in 2011.

River engineers, anglers and bird conservationists alike can all learn a great deal from these projects about watercourses – about their dynamics and functions. This will help us to improve the projects on an on-going basis. It is no exaggeration to say that this represents a historic opportunity that is unparalleled worldwide.

The aims

Eawag and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) are contributing to the learning process and to the exchange of knowledge through the Swiss Rivers programme that was initiated in 2013. Unanswered real-world questions are tackled by research projects, with an emphasis on revitalisation and remediation measures in hydropower.

The Swiss Rivers programme has two objectives:

  • Long-term enforcement support through practice-oriented and interdisciplinary research
  • Promoting the exchange of knowledge between real-world practice and academia


The Swiss Rivers programme is structured as a project network. The projects are implemented by Eawag in collaboration with partners from academia and industry. Within Eawag, the programme is coordinated by the interdepartmental Swiss Rivers working group.

The programme is managed by Christine Weber of Eawag.


Current projects

How does the fish community change in a widening? And how does the riparian vegetation react after deculverting?
We use Switzerland’s unique record of historical maps for studying landscape change over the past 150 years.
Collaborative learning for hydropeaking mitigation
Do fish and invertebrates like the Rolling Stones?

Completed projects

Watercourses are among earth's most biodiverse ecosystems. However, they are also under severe pressure from construction work and hydropower generation, among other things.
What do we get from enhancing river structure and function?
4’000 river kilometers will be rehabilitated in Switzerland over the course of the coming 80 years – a unique opportunity for learning!
How does such compromised bed-load transport affect fish in terms of their feeding and habitat? And what measures can be taken to restore a river's bed-load regime?
Welchen Einfluss haben unterschiedliche Habitatsansprüche auf die Modellresultate? Wie beeinflusst Morphologie die ökologische Wirkung hydrologischer Schwallsanierungsmassnahmen?